Stories & Features

150 places: Vancouver Island

Walking a Tofino beach at low tide
Walking Tofino's beaches at low tide is the highlight for some. For others, it's surfing, storm watching or fishing.

Numbers 87-108 on our list of great places in B.C.

What's this list about? Celebrating Canada's 150th by exploring B.C.

87. Chesterman Beach, Tofino

There's a lot of stuff to do in Tofino, but only one place ranks No. 1 on TripAdvisor's 52-item list of things to do in Tofino. Why? It's just an unforgettable beach on a coast famous for its sand and surf.

88. Hot Springs Cove, Tofino

Accessible only by boat or sea plane, plus a 30-minute hike, this adventure is understandably popular. The geothermal hot spring mixes with the ocean water to produce the perfect temperature for us. Best to visit Hot Springs Cove when the crowds aren't there, so a rainy day in April or October might be best.

89. Kayaking the Broken Islands, near Ucluelet

Depending on how adventurous you are, or the size of your wallet, you can do this trip as a self-guided camping adventure or a fully-catered guided affair. Regardless, the Broken Islands get rave reviews from paddlers from around the world.

Cape Scott beach Vancouver Island
Multi-day hikes await the more adventurous hiker at Cape Scott Provincial Park, but a short day hike can also take you to pristine beaches and tent sites.

90. Hiking Cape Scott, Port Hardy

Adapting to the elements just goes with the territory when you hike coastal B.C. But if you're the hardy type with some quality gear - including a waterproof tent - the glorious beaches of Cape Scott Provincial Park await you. The North Coast Trail is one of B.C.'s great, but challenging, multi-day hiking experiences. If you want an easier time of it, a 45-minute hike on the San Josef Bay Trail will get you to a wonderful beach where you can camp.

91. Oyster Burgers in Campbell River at Quay West

You haven't tasted an oyster burger until you've had a Bayou Oyster Burger at Quay West Kitchen & Catering.

92. Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park

You might be tempted to just drive through the park and be awed by the size of the Douglas Fir trees in MacMillan Provincial Park as you pass by. Instead, stop and stroll through the trails to get an ant's-eye view of trees that can be up to 800 years old. 

93. Hiking the West Coast Trail, Vancouver Island

As bucket-list adventures go, the West Coast Trail is close by and attainable for seasoned backpackers who don't mind a little wet weather, the type of people who salivate over cook-in-package freeze-dried delicacies like Hurry Curry Seasoned Chicken & Rice. It's usually a six-day hike, so start getting in shape today and reserve your spot early.

94. North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre, Errington

When animals are rescued on northern Vancouver Island, a lot of them convalesce at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre, from bald eagles to bears, owls, and falcons. In May 2017, a red-necked grebe was rescued from a Nanaimo lumber yard and, after a bit of rest and feeding at the centre, was back in the wild after a few days.

95. Horne Lake Caves, Parksville/Port Alberni

Learn the difference between stalactite and stalagmite, up close and in person. Explore underground caverns at Horne Lake, large and small, sometimes with entrances barely big enough to crawl through. Way cool, and you can do it free and self-guided.

96. Cinnamon bun at Old Town Bakery in Ladysmith

There's soup, sandwiches and sumptuous cakes. But it's the cinnamon buns that earn the rave reviews at Old Town Bakery.

97. Take a boat to the Dinghy Dock pub in Nanaimo

The only floating pub in Canada offers a different view of Nanaimo and Vancouver Island. Just grab the local ferry to get there.

98. The Bastion, Nanaimo

What's a bastion? It's a sturdy fort, and this Nanaimo icon is the last remaining wooden Hudson's Bay Company bastion in North America. It has been moved several times, but The Bastion's timbers and three floors are the original, from 1853.

99. Whale Interpretive Centre, Telegraph Cove

The Whale Interpretive Centre would love for you to visit and make a donation to help with their various projects, including renovations to the facility that include installation of energy-saving LEDs. Visit the skeleton of Arnie the grey whale, who found a new home in the afterlife after being caught under the public fishing pier in Campbell River.

100. Comox Lake Dam Picnic Area, Comox

Kayakers love the Puntledge River, but the hiking and biking trail network here is also a big draw. Try River Trail West, an easy one to two hours of hiking along the river, or test your mountain biking skills on the Bear Bait Trail or several more challenging trails in the area.

101-102. Elk Falls Suspension Bridge, Campbell River

Hikers looking for the best views of Elk Falls would sometimes venture out onto a slippery perch... a dicey proposition at best. So the Rotary Club of Campbell River raised funds for a suspension bridge and viewing platform that now helps draw thousands to Elk Falls Provincial Park each year. While you're there, visit BC Hydro's John Hart Generating Station Interpretive Centre.

103. Emily Carr House, Victoria

A National and Provincial Historic Site, the Emily Carr House is the family home of the post-Impressionist and Modernist painter, writer and thinker. Open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site, Colwood
Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site, near Colwood, offers deep dive into history, and some real cool photo opportunities.

104. Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site, Colwood

Even those with a thing for lighthouses are surprised at how interesting this National Historic Site is. A visit to Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse isn't just about taking great photos. You can tour secret bunkers, military command posts and original 19th century buildings while learning the personal stories of soldiers and their families at the fort, a west coast artillery fortress on active duty from 1895 to 1956.

105. Hike to petroglyphs, Sooke

Hike the Coast Trail in East Sooke Park for a three-to-four-hour loop that takes you along the ocean, and then inland, on what ranks as one of the Victoria area's finest hikes. En route, you get to explore First Nations petroglyphs at Alldridge Point, carved into the rock by the Coast Salish First Nations.  

106. Bear Mountain Golf & Country Club, Victoria

Bear Mountain's Mountain course is ranked 43th on ScoreGolf's Top 100 Canadian courses list for 2017, and the Valley course isn't far behind at 58.  A stunning location for these courses, and they don't disappoint.

107. Train trestle hike, Goldstream

You take in both Niagara Falls and the very cool railway trestle on this Goldstream day-hike.   

108. Wall murals, Chemainus

Billed as the world's leading community-driven art project, the Chemainus murals project defies easy classification. Tour the town and see murals ranging from The Hong Hing Waterfront Store to the stunning Hermit.